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Divorce - How To Tell Children

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Dear Dr. Dave & Dr. Dee,

I just found out that my husband is having an affair. I told him if he saw this woman again, our marriage was over. This woman lives on the East Coast; we live on the West Coast. He refused to stay and make our marriage work and left to spend time with her.

We have two children. Both of them adore their father and he is a very good father. How do we tell them that we are getting a divorce?



Dear Stressed,

You have just found out about your husband's affair, but it doesn't mean the end of your marriage. Unless your husband has had a series of affairs, trying to make the marriage work should at least be attempted. An affair is a signal that the emotional needs in the marriage are not being met. Joint marriage counseling is essential.

If you are absolutely certain about divorcing, then when telling children about a divorce, it's very important not to make them take sides. You are justifiably hurt and angry, but keep the children out of the struggle between you and your husband.

It would be optimal to have both parents sit down with the kids and tell them that their Dad has decided to move out and live on his own. You can tell them as much or as little as you think is necessary. If your husband is not going to be around for quite some time, then you could let them know about their Dad is leaving. Remember, do not make your husband look like the bad guy, even if justified. Your kids love their father, and any negative comments will only upset your kids even further. Be sure and explain that this is something between two parents, the kids are not to blame, and both parents still love and will take care of them.

Divorce means change, and change causes stress. Your children may feel angry, abandoned, and fearful. Keep the communication lines open, and answer all their questions. Depending on the emotional stress that results, family counseling would be beneficial.

In addition, it would be helpful to consult with a divorce attorney. To find out more about divorce laws in your state, see